AMD Catalyst vs. X.Org Radeon Driver 2D Performance

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 18 January 2009. Page 9 of 9. 50 Comments

In the last four JXRenderMark tests, the Catalyst 8.12 driver won just two of them with Catalyst 8.10 compared to the latest xf86-video-ati and kernel DRM code.

While the Catalyst Linux driver is frequently criticized as being slow when it comes to the 2D performance, the Catalyst 8.12 driver with the ATI Radeon X1800XT graphics card had actually better performance than the open-source xf86-video-ati driver in 17 of the 28 tests performed using the Phoronix Test Suite. Though in some of the tests where the open-source ATI stack was faster, the Catalyst Linux driver was substantially slower (by up to five times or more in some of the tests). There are certainly some operations where the Catalyst driver is faster and other areas where it is not being accelerated well at all. The 2D performance of the xf86-video-ati driver should be more competitive with the introduction of X Server 1.6, which does bring some EXA improvements. On a similar note, just recently the open-source ATI stack began supporting basic 2D acceleration on the R600/700 series.

You can share your thoughts on ATI Linux performance in the Phoronix Forums or run the Phoronix Test Suite yourself to see how your system stacks up.

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Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via